The Sail Port Stephens 2021 Regatta was held 19-25 April with the Port Stephens Trophy Event with 130 keelboats and 50 trailerables and off-the-beach classes enjoying the mild-Autumn conditions. Sail Port Stephens goal is to give competitors the best possible on and off water regatta experience in one of the east coast’s finest sailing destinations, a little over 2 hours north of Sydney by car or an easy 90.0nm day sail. In the three-day event, Mark Wharton’s J/88 JOJI won with a 1-1-2 in their 26-boat Division 3 fleet. Friday, the fleet looked spectacular as they headed offshore from Port Stephens under spinnaker, rounded the offshore islands then headed to the mark off Fingal Bay’s beach. A westerly of around 12-14 knots stayed for their course. Saturday was the Broughton Island Passage Race with light and variable breezes and a few DNFs. Sunday, the Southwesterly breeze returned for the final day of the regatta being an inshore W/L race. Reports from Mark (J/88 JOJI): “It was J/88 JOJI’s second Sail Port Stephens Regatta, its first in 2019 when the fleets got smashed by a 40-knot southerly squall in the last race. Not a fun moment or one to repeat. So this year’s breeze and weather conditions were just what the race organizers ordered. It was a record fleet of 130 boats spread across a number of varied divisions. The racing was serious but lots of fun too with some close quarter starts and tense top mark roundings. JOJI went into all races knowing who the local boats were, as local knowledge was key to master the currents and breeze shifts. The size of JOJI relative to the Division 3 fleet meant that it was essential to get a clear air start. Lucky for us, all three starts were good and so we managed to break away from the main fleet to chase down the fast locals. The first two races were passage races out offshore around the Islands and made for terrific asymmetrical spinnaker sailing. The third race—an up and down with two marks top and bottom to give the 60 or so boats room at either end. JOJI’s handicap wins in the first two races didn’t separate the field very much ‘points wise’ and going into the last race, four boats were within a couple of points of each other. The pressure was on. The third race started in similar fashion, close quarters, downwind start, gybing onto port on the line and positioning for clear air again. And, also keeping the local gun boat within reach. JOJI’s superior speed upwind along with some great crew work on the tacks meant we knocked off the ‘boat to beat,’ and he eventually got buried in amongst the bigger boats. JOJI maintained its clear air lead and took line honors and second on handicap and winning the series by a clear 16 points. A great result for JOJI and its crew!”

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